Waikato builder steps forward for a worthy cause


When Hamilton’s Downey Designer Homes (DDH) was approached by Hospice Waikato to build a house to assist in raising funds for the Waikato Hospice Building Appeal, construction coordinator Steve Elmiger didn’t hesitate in putting his hand up to take on the challenge.

“I’ve had my own personal dealings with Hospice in the past so I was keen to give something back to such a worthy cause,” Mr Elmiger says.
“And the more people I approached to help with the build, the more it became apparent that there are many people out there who have had their own lives affected by cancer in one way or another.

“Once they heard about what we were doing, they were more than happy to contribute in any way they could.”
The task was to build a sound family home complete with fences, driveway, paths and landscaping on a 700 sq m section within a new subdivision in north-east Hamilton, and to market and successfully auction it off to raise money for the Waikato Hospice Building Appeal.

“To get things under way we had to design a home that would best suit the section which had been purchased at a considerably reduced cost for the cause,” Mr Elmiger says.
“My job was to coordinate the entire project which was pretty much a full-time job for the first couple of months. I was busy contacting concrete suppliers, roofing contractors, heating providers, kitchen manufacturers, landscapers, fencing contractors and anyone else I could think of to help out.”

“What we found amazing was that, despite the doom and gloom in these current tough economic times, I only had one negative response towards the project.
“However, as Hamilton is only a small place it didn’t take long for the ‘grapevine’ to do its work, and that contractor soon came back asking if it was too late to be involved.”

With a list as long as your arm of all those willing to contribute to the Hospice Charity House, the range of what people were prepared to offer towards the build was simply overwhelming. From a one-man-band through to large corporates, the contributions were all relative.

The Waikato Times, a long standing supporter of Hospice Waikato, ran stories and updates of the building progress at no cost to the project. Also, Harcourts Hamilton kindly approached DDH wanting to get involved as well, which meant they were able to market the property at no cost.
“It was a fantastic experience to see the support of the Hamilton community, and even better when people approached us wanting to be a part of it rather than being asked,” Mr Elmiger says.

The build began in the middle of 2008, with the auction planned just in time for the new owners to move into their new home for Christmas 2008. It was a fantastic effort to have the job finished on time during some very wet weather months.

“We held a special breakfast for around 120 people at the site on the morning of the auction as a way to show our appreciation and thanks to all those involved, and most of them stayed to watch the auction proceedings.

“When it came time for the auction to start, the road and neighbouring sections had become a mass of 600 to 700 interested watchers and, hopefully, bidders.
“It was definitely standing room only, with the auctioneer conducting proceedings from the back of one of the DDH utility vehicles parked on the driveway in front of the house.”

As well as the main drawcard of the house auction, DDH also managed to secure a Grand Slam All Blacks rugby jersey, signed by all 36 touring players, coaches and management, which was auctioned off for a very generous $5000 and donated to Hospice Waikato.

The bidding for the home started with seven interested parties but that soon became two as the bids continued to rise. The new owners, Mark and Lea Callan, bought the house for $565,000 and were over the moon, after admiring the home for some time.

It was a very successful day for everyone involved and, in light of the current economic woes, a result to be very excited about and proud of.
Once the project and building costs had been met, DDH was able to present the Hospice Waikato Building Appeal with a donation exceeding $200,000.

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